On behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Maria Tripodi, attended the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) at the United Nations Building in Geneva. Chaired by Ambassador Leonardo Bencini, Italy’s Permanent Representative to the Disarmament Conference, the works will continue for three weeks, until 16 December. The unanimous election of Ambassador Bencini as President of the Review Conference is a recognition of Italy’s traditional commitment and constructive approach to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control issues.
The general debate opened this morning with a video message from the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and a speech by the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu. Both recalled the urgent need for the international community to invest more resources to strengthen the international biosafety architecture.
While recalling the importance of the Convention in the face of today’s challenges, the Undersecretary recalled in her national address how “the pandemic emergency has taught us how important it is that we all work together to strengthen biosafety at the global level”. “The experience of the global scientific community in responding to the pandemic must serve as an incentive for us to strengthen the BWC” – Undersecretary Tripodi added – “especially in the direction of enhancing prevention capacities and improving cooperation mechanisms.”
During the day, Undersecretary Tripodi also had a meeting with Izumi Nakamitsu, to whom she reiterated Italy’s strong support for the multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibits the development, production and possession of bacteriological and toxin weapons and requires the destruction of existing stocks. It entered into force in March 1975 and is the first multilateral treaty to ban the production and use of an entire class of weapons. To date, it has been ratified by 184 States and signed by 4 others.